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Reliance is telling CNN IBN journalists how to cover the Aam Aadmi Party

Arvind Kejriwal’s critics say there was no need for all cameras to be on him. Reuters/Arko Datta

It’s been more than a month since industrial giant Reliance Industries took over Network18 Group, which runs a suite of television channels including the CNN and CNBC affiliates in India. Everyone has wondered if the company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani would interfere in the news-gathering operations of its new properties.

 The answer appears to be yes.
Last week, a day after founding editor Rajdeep Sardesai emailed his resignation to the staff, a small group of executives from Reliance (RIL) held a town hall in the suburban New Delhi offices of CNN IBN, the English news channel. Journalists from sister channels, such as CNBC TV18, Hindi news channel IBN7 and the Marathi version IBN Lokmat, were also present, according to at least two accounts of that meeting.
Until that day—the meeting was held on July 7 around 5:30pm—RIL’s takeover had been notable for a transition that was unremarkable, very much business as usual. Now, employees gathered to hear the new management’s vision.
When the floor opened to questions, a few journalists raised their hands, according to the two attendees. One question from a CNBC reporter was about how they were expected to cover new owner RIL, a vast industrial conglomerate with interests in energy, materials, defence, retail, telecom, and media. Rohit Bansal, an RIL official now named non-executive director at Network18, answered. He said staff would be expected to cover the new owner in the same manner that the channel used to cover the previous owner Raghav Bahl and the company Network18. The company’s channels typically carried very little coverage about its owners.
The next question was from CNN IBN anchor and journalist Karma Paljor. He asked the group how the channel was expected to cover the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the independent political movement devoted to India’s “common man.” Paljor declined to comment for this story.
It’s important to understand the context of this question in order to understand the answer. Reliance Industries and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party have something of a contentious relationship. Kejriwal, who became Delhi chief minister riding an anti-corruption wave, has publicly made allegations against RIL and Ambani. When he was Delhi chief minister, Kejriwal asked the state’s anti-corruption bureau to register cases against Ambani as well as serving and former petroleum ministers for allegedly colluding to raise gas prices to benefit Reliance. The company, in turn, has slapped legal notices on television channels that broadcast the footage of press conferences in which Kejriwal raised these allegations.
With Delhi set to go to elections once again, Kejriwal would be back in the news. That is why the CNN IBN journalist wanted to know the expectations from the new owner, RIL.
In his response, Bansal made three key points.
First, just because somebody has been given a microphone, does not mean that the broadcaster has no responsibility for what he says under India’s Telegraph Act and under the norms for broadcast licences.
  • Second, 96% of AAP’s candidates had lost their deposit in the general elections. Why should CNN IBN give any importance to a party that has been rejected by the people of India?
  • Third, if the channel doesn’t have sufficient content, it should not just run clips from a press conference on loop several times a day.

Besides Bansal, the town hall was addressed by Prabir Jha, group HR head of RIL; Umesh Upadhyay, media director at RIL; and Alok Agarwal, who was named Network18 group COO after RIL took control.

An RIL spokesperson did not respond to an email requesting comment.
According to staffers, Bansal’s response has sparked some disquiet within the newsroom. Some see it as a clear message that AAP should be ignored. “Surely the Telegraph Act doesn’t just apply to Kejriwal. Our politicians are all always making allegations against each other. Does this mean we won’t cover any of them?” one journalist who asked not to be named told Quartz.
 Indeed, since the time RIL took over in May, there have been no stories on Kejriwal or the AAP, according to one journalist. AAP leaders are no longer invited to panel discussions on the channel. When banker Meera Sanyal, an AAP candidate who lost elections from South Mumbai, appeared on CNN IBN on a panel discussion on the budget day, the channel made no mention of her links with the AAP. Many Indian media outlets are owned by large conglomerates with diverse business interests, making Reliance hardly the first to grapple with such coverage issues.
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Bansal, the executive who answered the question about AAP, joined RIL in recent months, as the company has stepped up efforts to communicate its version in the complex debate over gas pricing. Bansal, a former journalist, and three other journalists who work with him have been active on Twitter, countering charges against RIL. The other three are RIL media director Umesh Upadhyay, news and communications director B.V. Rao and new media director Gautam Chikermane. On the company’s YouTube channel, the Flame of Truth, the media team has been putting up video statements countering allegations, and panel discussions on the company’s results. The statements are presented by Upadhyay in Hindi and Rao in English. The company recently published a 56-page e-book, explaining the gas pricing debate.

Sardesai denied access to office

In recent days, subsequent to the town hall, RIL’s Upadhyay has started working out of CNN IBN’s Noida newsroom. He has now been designated president, news, at Network18, and sits in an office previously occupied by Sardesai. According to an RIL executive who asked not to be named, Upadhyay is working on integrating operations of the regional channels of ETV, now part of the Network18 fold, with the company’s own channels.

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Journalists at CNN IBN say that they have received instructions in recent days from the channel’s editors, who have attributed those decisions to Upadhyay.

Most notable of these instances is one pertaining to July 9, when Amit Shah was named president of the BJP. According to two newsroom staffers with knowledge of developments, CNN IBN’s bulletin at night as well as the graphics on air, were edited to remove references to the criminal charges faced by Shah. One journalist said this was done on instructions of managing editor Vinay Tewari, who said that is how Upadhyay wanted it. Tewari declined to comment.

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As apprehensions and hearsay about the new management swirled about in the newsroom, Sardesai, who founded the channel with TV18 promoter Raghav Bahl and former NDTV executive Sameer Manchanda in 2005 and remained its high-profile face for nine years, was scheduled to do a farewell meeting at the CNN IBN office in Mumbai. Video clips from a similar meeting in the Delhi newsroom and his farewell speech had found its way into social media. After the meeting in Mumbai, Sardesai was scheduled to return to Delhi for a farewell party at QBA restaurant in Delhi on July 12.

But Sardesai was denied access to the Mumbai newsroom and he could not address the staff. Subsequently, as ties between the former editor and some of his former colleagues became strained over this episode, the farewell party, for which contributions at Rs1,300 ($22) per person were being collected, was canceled. Sardesai declined to comment.

Read more here – http://qz.com/235235/reliance-is-telling-cnn-ibn-journalists-how-to-cover-the-aam-admi-party/

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India’s Newest Media Baron, Mukesh Ambani Embraces #Censorship #WTFnews

 FREE.jpg

6 JUN 1, 2014 6:03 PM EDT

Bold initiatives characterize India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, who famously lives in a 27-story building in Mumbai, a city where most people languish in slums. Last month, his company, Reliance Industries Ltd., sought to prevent circulation of a new book which claims that Reliance successfully pressured the previous Indian government to double the price of natural gas. Amazon received a cease and desist notice, as did even an individual who had merely forwarded an e-mail invitation to the book’s launch. And Thursday, Ambani moved to buy a whole swath of the Indian media: Bloomberg News reports that Reliance, which has already invested $11 billion in a high-speed cellular network, will now spend $678 million for majority stakes in two major media companies, Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. and TV18 Broadcast Ltd.

The news was preceded by a series of high-level departures from these companies, which have tie-ups with, among others, CNN, CNBC, Viacom, A&E Networks and Forbes. Two of India’s most prominent anchors in English, Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose, both at CNN-IBN, are reportedly also on their way out.

What’s striking is that Reliance already controlled the two companies through a uniquely Indian system of surrogate ownership. As a long investigative story in the magazine The Caravan revealed last year, it had also enforced the transformation of major news channels and websites into propaganda outlets for Narendra Modi and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.

Here is what happened when Vivian Fernandes, a journalist employed by CNBC, was sent to Gujarat to interview Modi:

A person involved with the production of the interview recalled that Fernandes asked Modi a difficult question about water conservation in Gujarat. Modi’s organisers had asked to see the questions before the interview, and demanded the water conservation question’s removal. When Fernandes sprung it on him anyway, Modi broke away from the camera and glared at a public relations executive in the room. “Why is he talking like this?” the person recalled Modi saying. “Are we not paying for this interview?” The production crew realised that the interview was part of a promotion for Modi.

In February, amid reports that she was being pressured to tone down her criticism of Modi, Ghose tweeted, “There is an evil out there, an evil which is stamping out all free speech and silencing independent journalists: journalists unite!” The anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal says that his attacks on Ambani led the media to abruptly mute its coverage of him.

Whatever the truth of these specific claims, the campaign by India’s corporate-owned media to promote Modi clearly worked. The tainted chief minister of Gujarat with a record of showering favors on big businessmen has emerged, within a few hectic months, as India’s messiah.

Conspiracy theorists can only marvel at the fact that Gautam Adani, one of Modi’s stalwart corporate supporters, has tripled his wealth, according to Bloomberg, since September 2013, when Modi’s party anointed him as its prime ministerial candidate. Ambani gained $800 million in a single day after exit polls earlier this month declared Modi the winner. Indeed, both Ambani and Adani graced Modi’s recent swearing-in ceremony in Delhi. Modi himself hinted at a more emboldened and enlarged crony capitalist regime when he was flown from Gujarat to the ceremony — presented by an ardent media as a coronation — on a private corporate jet emblazoned with the name of Adani.

Of course, the margin of his victory makes irrelevant the fact that in the run-up to the elections Modi received more than seven timesmore coverage on prime-time television than his closest rival, the hapless Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party. But there is no denying that the future of media freedom in India looks even bleaker than ever after Ambani’s Silvio Berlusconi-style domination of both news and entertainment content and delivery mechanisms. At the very least, such violation of the rules of the free market should be exposed to intense public scrutiny, even criticism, of the kind the deal between Comcast and Time Warner has provoked in the U.S.

But a near-total silence from politicians and the mainstream media greeted, as I’ve noted above, the extraordinary doubling of gas prices in India. When Reliance attempted to throttle the book about it, those columnists who had denounced Penguin for agreeing to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” went oddly quiet. And given the “toadification” of large parts of the Indian media, to paraphrase Salman Rushdie, it may even croak out some malicious joy as more independent-minded journalists depart what does look increasingly like a toad-breeding swamp.

To contact the writer of this article: Pankaj Mishra at [email protected].

 

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Mukesh Ambani and Adani leads billionaire gains on Narendra Modi’s lead

Mukesh Ambani added almost $800 million to his wealth and Gautam Adani added almost $700 million on Tuesday
Mukesh Ambani leads billionaire gains on Narendra Modi’s lead

Mukesh Ambani has added $5.3 billion to his fortune since 13 September, when Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, was named prime ministerial candidate, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Singapore: Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, was the biggest gainer among the world’s billionaires as exit polls signalled Narendra Modi’s opposition bloc would win a majority in the country’s election.
The chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), operator of the world’s biggest oil refinery complex, added almost $800 million to his wealth on Tuesday. Ambani has a net worth of $25.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gautam Adani was the second-biggest gainer worldwide as he added almost $700 million, giving him a net worth of $6.9 billion.
Indian stocks rose to a record on Tuesday as investors bet Modi will revive an economy growing at almost the weakest pace in a decade. The combined wealth of the country’s nine richest people rose $2.8 billion, accounting for almost half of the $5.9 billion gain among the world’s 200 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“The main driver is that Modi will get the numbers,” said Christopher Wong, a Singapore-based money manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, which oversees more than $300 billion worldwide. “There is hope that after four years of not much investment, a stable government will be able to facilitate more investments.”
Ambani has added $5.3 billion to his fortune since 13 September, when Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, was named prime ministerial candidate, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Adani’s wealth has more than tripled from $1.9 billion on 13 September.
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies will win 249 to 340 seats, according to six exit polls released this week, with 272 needed for a majority. The Congress party and its allies, in power for the past decade, are projected to win 70 to 148 seats. Results will be announced in two days.
Modi improved access to electricity, built more roads and eased investment approvals after taking power in Gujarat in 2001, providing a platform for growth for companies in the state such as Adani Enterprises Ltd (ADE), which billionaire Adani controls. Ambani’s Reliance operates two refineries at Jamnagar in the western state of Gujarat. Bloomberg
Read mor ehere- http://www.livemint.com/Companies/VVeW6Ykt0LJJiTjSMNnUcP/Mukesh-Ambani-leads-billionaire-gains-on-Narendra-Modis-lea.html

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Will Ambani have the last laugh? Or why the AAP needs a small lesson in Marxism

February 17, 2014

 

Meeting Millennial Expectations: Mukesh D. Ambani

Meeting Millennial Expectations: Mukesh D. Ambani (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

 

by Saroj Giri

 

Let us accept Arun Jaitley’s characterisation that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had no agenda, ideology or mandate. Is this not precisely what gives AAP the freedom and lucidity with which they act, fresh, unpredictable and unjaded, if not entirely anti-establishment?

 

While AAP too is definitely gaming for the next elections, they do not however seem out to defer to any constituted power, say one or the other industrial house – hence they could launch an audacious attack against the Ambanis. Kejriwal argued that both Congress and BJP closed ranks against the AAP since they are both wedded to and controlled by the Ambanis. Jaitley’s three absences seem precisely what could allow AAP to be this free agent speaking out the truth!

 

AAP is able to carry a bit of the will of people, of the aam aadmi, against the consolidated nexus of big capital and political parties. It draws some clear lines. Even if the insistence on passing the Jan Lokpal Bill and the resignation was only a way for AAP to get out of the millstone of being in the government in Delhi, they have in the process hit upon this nexus, the open secret of Indian politics.

 

But this freedom, lucidity and truth of AAP’s actions is so thoroughly circumscribed – not just since Kejriwal’s resignation is, as the media suggests, more a political gameplan than genuine political morality. It is so limited since this will of the people is understood by AAP only through the machination and modality of parliamentary and constitutional power – electoral mandate, assembly legislation, constitutional processes and so on. AAP cannot think outside of liberal constitutional framework [1].

 

Hence you have a bizarre situation where Kejriwal is going ‘back to the people’, returning to another electoral fray after being freshly out of one, in just 48 days – and this precisely when he was this close to exposing the nexus between big capital and the state and could have leveraged the power of being in government against big capital. Entering the electoral fray again makes it appear that the attack on Ambani is a political stunt, thereby diluting the gains made. It feels like no more than a clever move.

 

We must then talk about the path not taken by Kejriwal. The path not taken by Kejriwal is one where he could have held on to power, not resigned and instead dug his heels, called on the people to oust those in power and started the long march to real power. He could have called on the people to rally behind the government in the fight against the onslaught of big capital. Maybe mohalla sabhas or other such people’s committees could have been activated in this direction, instead of only doing so-called ‘development work’.

 

Workers and social movements working in Delhi could be mobilised to form committees and organs of political power outside of the assembly, outside of the government – and yes perhaps outside of the constitution (if it came to that) but totally in tune with people’s power. An Occupy kind of a movement could have come into shape. Instead of fielding Soni Sori or Medha Patkar as a candidate in the elections they could have thought of reaching out to the movements they stand for.

 

There are other social and revolutionary movements fighting Ambani and his ilk. Attempts could have been made to publicly ally with such movements. And all this not to make AAP into another umbrella organisation which Congress was earlier – for that Congress was only a vehicle of extending the hegemony of the left-wing of capital over the movement as a whole.

 

With such a broadening of people’s power and sharpening of the struggle against the ruling classes, not leaving the government would not have necessarily appeared as power-hungry and dishonest. Here Kejriwal rightly questioned the notion of governance – why for example lodging an FIR against Ambani not be counted as good governance. But to see that he could have continued being in government and pushed for more of this kind of a counter-establishment governance is something he would not want to consider. Using the government as an instrument in the struggle is something Kejriwal could not imagine. We see an inability to think beyond the parliamentary constitutional possibilities and options – a very cynical, limited attitude.

 

Using the government as a revolutionary instrument would have been the way out of the endless circuitry of elections, government formation and passing legislation from the pulpit. All real change (er… real revolutions) involve such a real power struggle.

 

Lenin famously, infamously for the likes of Ambani, bypassed the elected (ah ‘elected’!) constituent assembly in favour of organs of working class power (the soviets) constituted outside – this being one of the decisive moments of the Russian Revolution. This is the lesson of, if Kejriwal cares, the Marxist theory of the state. ‘Going back’ again and again to ‘the people’ (read ‘elections’) in the face of the unelected and dictatorial power of big capital and the state is a sign of weakness.

 

Stumbling upon a roadblock in the nexus between big capital and the state only means that AAP’s experience today is a clear instance of what Marxism teaches us: that capitalist democracy is mostly dictatorship of the bourgeoisie [2]. Overlooking all of this and pitching again for this democracy, trying to seek (merely) electoral dividends from this resignation, is both foolish and dishonest – particularly, since in doing so the alternative of mobilising the will of the people along truly anti-capitalist lines is silently set aside.

 

Why is the AAP and its prominent ideologues like Yogendra Yadav refusing to draw these lessons from their own experience? Is it because such a position will take them close to the Naxalite movement which has long been arguing precisely this point? Indeed, from the Naxalite standpoint, what AAP is doing is farcical. They are trying to reinvent the wheel all over again! Earlier the JP movement tried to do this: reject big capital or modernity but never give up electoral fetishism. This major failing of the JP and Lohaite traditions is being repeated by AAP. No wonder then The Times of India could make light of AAP’s attack on Ambani by comparing it with Indira Gandhi’s attack on her opponents as agents of big industrial houses.

 

‘I can relinquish the post of the CM a thousand times, to defend the constitution and fight corrruption’, says Kejriwal. This moralising attitude is so middle class. It is willing to forego the establishment notion of governance but not the not middle class morality and understanding about power. Thus AAP would not give more than lip support to the other big struggle against big capital, against the Maruti-Suzuki company – this is the movement of the Maruti workers. Ah, the workers have used unconstitutional methods in the struggle, so we cannot go with them, says AAP! Let us fight big capital selectively – and that also only through ‘constitutional methods’: which basically means washing off the real struggle in the icy waters of electoral politics!

 

AAP pushes the possibilities within Indian democracy to its limits and makes it deliver as much as it can. This is attracting many weak-kneed radicals to it. Now they plan to field Soni Sori to instill faith back in this system – they will call it reforming the system or ‘struggle’ or even ‘speaking truth to power’. All this stretches this democracy thin but reveals a refusal to break with it, reposing a kind of eternal faith in its (im)possibilities. Optimism which hides a deeper pessimism, resignation to the status quo. AAP is here like the rest of the liberals and the progressive Congresswalaas. It suffers from a compulsive penchant for playing with the foamy electoral politics. It suffers from what Lenin called parliamentary cretinism.

 

Pushed beyond this, in a terrain less foamy and more gritty, like where the Maruti workers find themselves, it soon turns towards the establishment, towards the debilitating embrace of our elitist fathers of the constitution, the political-constitutional-liberal state order. And, eventually, into the embrace of big capital. Will Ambani have the last laugh?

 

Notes

 

[1] This inability is by no means unique but is rampant even among critical scholars. One major chieftain of this bloc is Ramachandra Guha whom I have critiqued in my piece, ‘The Idea of a Democratic India’, Economic and Political Weekly, July 20, 2013; http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/idea-democratic-india.html

 

[2] On this question of democracy, see my ‘The Enchantments of Democracy’ in http://sanhati.com/excerpted/2439/

 

– See more at: http://sanhati.com/excerpted/9209/#sthash.olcHEPhZ.dpuf

 

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What is common between Ambani, Subroto Roy or Praful Patel ?

 

English: At home of Subrata Roy Sahara
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SUCHETA DALAL | 21/01/2014 , moneylife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the powerful threaten our basic freedom

It is the Polyester Prince story all over again. In the 1990s, Reliance Industries used the courts to bully a meek publisher and stopped the India release of a book that dissected Dhirubhai Ambani’s path to fabulous riches. In the days before social media or online book distribution options, the stay by a lower court was enough to stop it from getting into shop shelves. Nearly 15 years later, Indian industrialists, especially those in politics or with great political clout, are using the same bullying tactics.

In January, Praful Patel, the powerful minister from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) pressured Bloomsbury India to withdraw The Descent of Air India—a tell-all book that exposed how India’s national airline was systematically looted and pushed into the red. Naturally, Mr Patel’s stellar role, as aviation minister, in giving a huge push to the airline’s collapse through venal senior management and reckless purchase of aircrafts is described in detail. When Mr Patel filed a case with the metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai, the author Jitendra Bhargava (for decades, the public face of Air India) decided to fight back, while the publisher, Bloomsbury, chose to issue a public apology and destroy the remaining stock of the book. Mr Bhargava says on his facebook page that this was a unilateral decision without any discussion with him; he has also told the judge that he can substantiate everything he has said in the book. Mr Bhargava will soon self-publish it as an e-book.

In the very same week, the Sahara parivar decided to take the Ambani route. It filed a Rs200-crore defamation suit against journalist Tamal Bandopadhyay for a book that has not even been published and managed to obtain an interim stay against its publication from a Kolkata court. While Sahara claims that the book is defamatory, it has been the subject of innumerable adverse news reports ever since August 2012 when a landmarkjudgement of the Supreme Court (SC) ordered it to refund a whopping Rs24,000 crore raised through two group companies. In the subsequent months, the group patriarch, Subrata Roy, has been restrained by the SC from going abroad. The group has been rebuked by the apex court for trying to ‘fool’ it and has a contempt petition filed against it by SEBI for calling the market regulator a ‘sarkari gunda’. It will be interesting to see whether Jaico, the publisher of Sahara: The Untold Story also caves in or fights back.

Meanwhile, both Bloomsbury and Jaico would do well to look at what happened with The Polyester Prince. While the publisher chickened out of a fight, photocopies of the book were in great demand and author, Hamish MacDonald, grew in stature. A decade latter, when Anil and Mukesh went to war over the division of the family business, the dirty reputation that they washed in public began to make the revelations in Mr MacDonald’s book seem mild by comparison. More interestingly, Dhirubhai Ambani’s story, warts and all, became a popular Bollywood movie with the blessings of his son. Hopefully, the judiciary will take this into account while deciding on how much credence they should give to the claims of controversial corporates and politicians who want to use their financial muscle to gag whistleblowers and publishers.

 

Read more here http://www.moneylife.in/article/what-is-common-between-ambani-subroto-roy-or-praful-patel/36044.html

Forum Debate: Religion and Politics: Praful Patel

Forum Debate: Religion and Politics: Praful Patel (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

 

 

 

 

 

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Open letter to Mukesh Ambani by a True Mumbaikar

Dear Mr.Ambani,

I am a proud owner of a 2005, Honda CRV.  Although the car is in good condition it’s old and my family thinks it’s outlived it’s life.

It’s their constant nagging which prompted me to write this mail to you. I know your sense of largesse and your kind heartedness.

If only you could ask your son, Akash to kiss my CRV from behind I shall be obliged.

Please ask him to gently dash my car with his favourite maserati or porshe(as the Aston Martin is out of service)

I don’t mind being flung on the other side of the divider and still survive. However,  if the accident is fatal I know a few of my generations to come will be insured by you.

You be rest assured that in the identification parade by the cops I will certainly recognise the portly driver you ask me to do in place of Akash. There will be no case and Akash will be free to zoom across the city like he always does.

One last request. I would like an upgrade to an Audience Q7 as that’s what my kids demand.  As for my lips they shall always remain sealed.

True to the spirit of karlo duniya muthi mein

Yours

A true mumbaikar

 

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Reliance – Ambani #Astonmartin Crash – Driver ID surprise

OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, Telegraph

Mumbai, Dec. 25: A prime witness has identified the driver of a Reliance-owned Aston Martin that was involved in a pile-up early this month as 55-year-old company chauffeur Bansilal Joshi rather than a “clean-shaven young man” who fled the scene.

Foram Ruparel, 25, an MBA student whose Audi was hit during the December 8 incident, identified Joshi as the man behind the Aston Martin’s wheel in a statement recorded by a magistrate yesterday, police officers who requested not to be identified said.

Eyewitnesses including Ruparel had earlier claimed to have spotted “a clean-shaven young man who did not look like a chauffeur” get off the Aston Martin and flee the scene in one of two Honda CRVs following it, media reports quoting police sources had earlier said.

But the day after the 1.30am pile-up on Peddar Road, the middle-aged Joshi turned up at Gamdevi police station and claimed he had been driving the Aston Martin, police sources have said.

It was not clear whether Ruparel identified Joshi in person or from a photograph yesterday, or, if neither, whether the MBA student mentioned Joshi by name, or, in that case, how she came to know his name.

Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy and deputy commissioner Nisar Tamboli did not respond to this newspaper’s calls or text messages.

The police had not arrested Joshi — who police sources said weighs around 100kg — after his December 9 statement, saying they were not sure that he matched the description Ruparel had provided. Officers also said that CCTV footage from the accident site had been inconclusive.

A PTI report quoted an unnamed senior police officer as saying today: “Since the victim (Ruparel), who was earlier confused and changing her statements, has now identified Joshi as the driver, we would arrest him. The mystery as to who was driving the luxury car ends with the complainant identifying Joshi.”

The PTI report quoted police sources as saying that Joshi had been with the Ambani family for several years and usually drove Akash, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani’s son.

According to the agency report, Joshi had told the police he had been asked to drive Akash on December 8 morning, and decided to test the car in the early hours. He was returning from Marine Drive when the accident took place.

Police sources said they were waiting for Joshi’s fingerprint report and would match it with the fingerprints on the steering of the Aston Martin, which was seized after the accident.

Reliance Ports, which owns the Aston Martin, has said the company would compensate Ruparel and Vikram Mishra, a pharmaceutical firm employee whose car too was damaged in the pile-up. The amount has not been revealed.

“Both would be paid a compensation,” a company source said.

Ruparel was driving her Audi, with three friends in the car, when the Aston Martin allegedly rammed it from behind. The impact caused the Audi to jump over the road divider and hit a luxury bus coming from the opposite direction.

The right front wheel of the Aston Martin came off and hit Mishra’s Hyundai Elantra. Nobody was injured in the pile-up.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1131226/jsp/nation/story_17721425.jsp#.Urvjm_QW3lw

MUST READ- Aston martin crash – no compensation from reliance

 

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Ambani #AstonMartin crash: No compensation from Reliance

NDTV | Reported by Saurabh Gupta, Edited by Diana George | Updated: December 26, 2013 

Mumbai Aston Martin crash: no compensation from Reliance, says woman driver

The wrecked Aston Martin that crashed into two cars in Mumbai on December 8

Mumbai A woman driver in Mumbai has denied reports that she accepted a new car from Reliance Industries as compensation for being hit by an Aston Martin owned by the company. Foram Ruparel, 25, was in an Audi on December 8 when the Aston Martin hit her car and a Hyundai Elantra owned by an executive named Vikram Mishra.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the pile-up.

A Mumbai newspaper today says that both car-owners have received new cars and have informed the police that they are “not interested in pursuing the case any further.” (Look what Santa got Aston Martin victims for X’mas)

But Ms Ruparel told NDTV that she has not been contacted by Reliance for any compensation, and that her new Audi was organized through her insurance company.

Over the weekend, Ms Ruparel identified a Reliance employee named Bansilal Joshi as the driver of the Aston Martin that hit her. Mr Joshi, 55, had turned up at the police station handling the case a day after the accident and said he was driving the Aston Martin on December 8.

The police has said that CCTV footage does not conclusively establish that he was the driver, which is why he has not been arrested.

The Press Trust of India reports that Mr Joshi has told the police that he usually chauffeurs Akash, the son of Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani. He allegedly said that he was scared after the accident and jumped into an escort car that usually accompanies all vehicles used by the Ambanis.

The accident  took place at night when the speeding Aston Martin was heading towards Haji Ali on Peddar Road in South Mumbai.

The driver lost control and hit Ms Ruparel’s Audi, which then flew over the divider on the road and hit a luxury bus.

The Aston Martin rolled ahead to then collide with Mr Mishra’s Hyundai Elantra car.

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#India – Nobody crashed the Aston Martin #Ambanicase

Gayatri Jayaraman   |   Mail Today  |   Mumbai, December 19, 2013 |
The customised Aston Martin, estimated to be worth Rs.4.5-cr, banged into an Audi causing it to jump the divider and hit an oncoming bus. The Aston Martin then hit a Hyundai Elantra.

On the evening of December 8, a customised Aston Martin worth Rs.4.5 crore registered to the Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Ports under number MH 01 BK 99, was cruising down Pedder Road in Mumbai’s posh South Bombay suburb, when the driver lost control.

The car was going at such high speed that it banged into an Audi being driven by a Ghatkopar resident – a 25-year-old MBA student called Foram Ruparel – causing the car to jump the divider and hit an oncoming bus. The Aston Martin in the meanwhile also hit a Hyundai Elantra, owned by Vikram Mishra, a resident of Thane who works at a pharmaceutical firm. One of the passengers in his car was a pregnant woman, who sustained injuries. Though the driver tried to flee, the car stalled. A Reliance spokesperson told Mail Today that the injuries sustained were minor and that the driver was not fleeing the scene but that the impact of speeding was so intense that the car was thrust ahead.

By the time the chaos ended, the two security details following the Aston Martin – two Honda CRVs – had whisked the driver away, leaving the car there.

The police took 12 hours to record the statements of the eyewitnesses and at 5.30 am an FIR was filed. Police also stated that CCTV footage at the Cadbury junction was inconclusive as it did not show the faces of the drivers. A Reliance spokesperson informed the police that it was a driver who was in the car.

The next day a Reliance driver Bansilal Joshi, 55, and weighing 100 kgs, who had worked with the company for around 30 years, turned up at the Gamdevi police station to confess that he had taken the car for a test drive on Sunday morning, and had crashed it. While the police recorded his statement, a number of factors raised suspicions:

First, why were two security details following a car driven by a chauffeur and not a family member.

Second, no chauffeur would drive a Rs.4 crore Aston Martin at over 100 km per hour when followed by a security detail.

Third, why was the driver whisked away from the scene of the crime without the matter having been reported or statements being recorded.

Fourth, the driver of the Audi, 25-year-old Ruparel recorded a statement saying the man at the wheel of the Audi, whom she saw weaving through traffic at high speed before he hit her via her rear view mirror, was a young man.

However, this final detail was omitted from the first FIR registered by assistant inspector Pawar. The police also did not arrest Joshi on receiving his statement as they were verifying it against his call records and CCTV footage that would place him at various spots during his supposed test drive. The police has also been collecting fingerprints and forensic evidence from the crashed vehicle. Reliance states that it is cooperating fully with the police and has no specific comment to make.

DCP Nisar Tamboli, of Zone 2, who is in charge of the case was contacted for further details but stated that as the case was still under investigation he could not divulge any further details. He did however state that no arrests are impending and that none would be made until evidence was found to be conclusive, which it is currently not, against any of the parties involved in the case.

 

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Did Akash Ambani, Son Of Mukesh Ambani, Kill Two People In A Road Accident?

 December 18, 2013

 

Akash Ambani

  • It is being speculated that son of Mukesh Ambani, Akash, was responsible for a road accident in Mumbai that killed two. The accident took place on December 8, 2013. 

On Thursday, December 12 2013, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “If friends in Mumbai are to be believed, it seems the only people who don’t know who was driving the fancy Aston Martin are the Mumbai police.” (Read: Akash Ambani, son of Mukesh Ambani)

Probably that’s when the limelight hit the spot. During the wee hours of Sunday, December 8 2013, a black Ashton Martin Rapide (registration # MH 01 BK 99) belonging to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Ports, crashed into an Audi and a Hyundai Elantra, at Pedder Road, Mumbai. That’s estimated to be a 4.5 crore rupees worth of (now) scrap metal.

The crash killed two people.

There was NDTV coverage, Bussiness Standard articles and other ambiguous reports which informed about the apparent details of the car crash; More recently, some news pieces have been making rounds on how the Mumbai police was not keen on arresting one of Reliance’s driver, Mr. Bhansilal Joshi – who, as per Reliance, was driving the car at that time.

He wasn’t arrested even after a full confession. Was that because of the tweets and the sarcastic remarks strewn all over the place about how things are being hushed up? (So if we weren’t in the internet era, 55-year-old Bhansilal Joshi would be behind bars by now?)

Some notable points about the case: 

  • News channels such as Zee 24 Taas claim a ‘fully drunk’ Akash Ambani was at the wheels in the car when the accident took place.
  • Mainstream media apparently has decided to keep mum on this news. 
  • The confession of the 55-year-old driver didn’t ensure his arrest. Yet.
  • Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police, Mumbai crime branch allegedly said that the matter ‘did not belong to crime branch, but was under jurisdiction of the local (Gamdevi) police station’.
  • Eyewitnesses of the accident claim that a young man, who apparently looked like Akash Ambani, was seen on the driver’s seat. The eyewitnesses claim that the driver fled the accident spot in one out of the two SUVs that were following the Aston Martin. 
  • The police has taken fingerprints and DNA evidence from the car, which won’t do much good –  media pictures and video footage shot by Zee TV soon after the accident show many people touching the inside of the car.
  • A number of Mumbai-based newspapers, including the tabloid Mumbai Mirror, have already pointed out that it was Akash Ambani – son of the richest industrialist in the country, Mukesh Ambani – who was on the driver’s seat when the accident took place.
  • An eyewitness says, “driver was a young guy and not a moustached old man as everyone is being made to believe.”
  • Signals from the mobile tower point out that Bansilal Joshi was not present at the time of the accident.
  • The car was last seen at a bash organised by Mukesh Ambani in the honour of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, at which Akash Ambani was also present.
  • Believe it or not there are apparently two casualties of this crash and one can’t find a peek about it anywhere.

An article by the news website Millennium Post asks three pertinent questions:

  • NDTV recently adjudged Mukesh Ambani to be one of the 25 Greatest Living Legend in India and the event was organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Would the Rastrapati Bhavan be open for private-invite only parties in the future, or was it that Rashtrapati Bhavan made an exception and obliged NDTV because of President Pranab Mukherjee’s long-standing association with the Ambani family?
  • Mukesh Ambani owns most of the leading news channels of the country and influences, if not downright controls, what they should be and should not be covering. (Is this also why the police haven’t made an arrest in nine whole days?)
  • Why is the media silent on this matter, which has not invited a single biting comment from either the Congress or the BJP, with the sole exception of a tweet by J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah? Will Arnab Goswami speak up NOW? The nation really needs to know.

Isn’t it our right to know who was behind the wheels of that Aston Martin? Isn’t it the right of the families of those who died in this accident to know who was responsible for the death of their loved ones?

Forget individual rights, is it right of anyone who is trying to put a cover on this incident? And the fact that news outlets have either blocked this story or completely ignored it is truly nauseating.

Let’s not be hypocritical. Let’s not.

Read more here- http://www.youthconnectmag.com/2013/12/18/did-akash-ambani-son-of-mukesh-ambani-kill-two-people-in-a-road-accident/

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